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A Comparison between the Life Goals and Missions of Saint Augustine and Socrates

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The most interesting historical figures that have ever existed are Socrates and St. Augustine that were in the center of the spiritual life in ancient time. Their works still are the most influential all over the world. Augustine and Socrates focused on the life with God, the metaphysical analysis of time, the ethical analysis of the evil, and the examined life. Certainly, other people including Christians had expressed these things before, but Augustine and Socrates brought an intellectual account and body of reasoned arguments to ground these ideas. At that time, it was kind of a philosophical revolution. Every revolution needs heroes who are able to make sacrifices. So these heroes were Socrates and St. Augustine who continue to inspire people all around the world.

A lot of people describe the word “mission” as an important goal or purpose that is accompanied by strong conviction. On the other hand, the mission is a word often used but it is not easy to find a clear definition which describes it, even less to find one on which everyone can agree. In “The Apology” Socrates clearly describes his mission “I am that gadfly which God has attached to the state, and all day long …arousing and persuading and reproaching…You will not easily find another like me.” Socrates compares himself to a gadfly and compares society to a horse. He is a stinging insect that rouses cattle from their sleep. Socrates says that the people of Athens are asleep and neglect all the injustices going on around them. His job is to awaken the Athenians and show them what is really going on. This is the kick that people need in order to take action and bring justice to their homeland. The gadfly metaphor was true to Socrates and his role in Athenian society. Socrates states that his role as a social gadfly is not for his benefit, but for the benefit of the people of Athens. “And now, Athenians, I am not going to argue for my own sake, as you may think, but for yours, that you may not sin against the God by condemning me, who am his gift to you.” In Socrates’ opinion, part of the reason for his arrest is because the politicians in the Athenian government didn’t like Socrates going around telling the people about the corruption that is trying to be kept hidden. If the people know what is truly going on in their government, they can bring justice to Athens. This is why society needs a gadfly like Socrates. But on the other side of that, St. Augustine doesn’t mention his mission in the “Confessions” but we can read it from Enchiridion: On Faith, Hope, and Love “But we ought to know the causes of good and evil in things, at least as far as men may do so in this life, filled as it is with errors and distress, in order to avoid these errors and distresses. We must always aim at that true felicity wherein misery does not distract, no error mislead”. (p 27) Augustine made ??a long and difficult journey from childhood faith through Manichaeism, skepticism, and Platonism to mature faith with rich experience. He believes in God with all his heart and encourages us to believe in Him too. He is the source of life , the pure form , the highest beauty. God is the center of Augustine’s life. When he was young he was searching with a restless heart for meaning in life. Augustine says, “He who enters into thee enters into the joy of his Lord, and shall have no fear and shall achieve excellence in the Excellent.” He sees his mission as being a servant of God. Augustine wants to praise God by developing and using God-given talents according to God’s Will; and for God’s greater glory. He understands the human as a person who have an indivisible personality with intelligence and free will, created in the image and likeness of God. Each person is a special closed world in which there is a struggle between good and evil, spirit and flesh, mind and sensibility.

Moreover, Socrates was convinced that he was chosen by God. He says: “Be sure that this is what the god orders me to do, and I think there is no greater blessing for the city than my service to the god. For I go around doing nothing but persuading both young and old among you not to care for your body or your wealth in preference to or as strongly as for the best possible state of your soul.”. In the opinion of Socrates, people should not spend their lives thinking about their career, money and intellectual perfection. He believes that the transfer of the knowledge from one person to another is impossible and unnecessary. True knowledge is contained in a hidden form in the human soul and everyone should bring them to the light of consciousness. Likewise, the man, in Augustine’s view, created by God, who has given him body, soul, mind and free will. The main duty of human is to follow God’s commandments and to be like Christ. He says “Therefore we must return to thee in humble piety and let thee purge us from our evil ways and be merciful to those who confess their sins to thee, and hear the groanings of the prisoners and loosen us from those fetters which we have forged for ourselves.” According to Augustine, the main virtues are how to overcome selfishness and learn how to love your neighbor.

Socrates says “I thought to myself: I am wiser than this man; neither of us probably knows anything that is really good, but he thinks he has knowledge, when he has not, while I, having no knowledge, do not think I have.” On the one hand, this principle was necessary to fight against the Sophists, criticizing their teachings and statements about learning the truth. On the other hand, the adoption of this principle was to encourage people to expand their knowledge and to comprehend the truth. You can study the laws of nature, the movement of the stars, but you mustn’t go so far – find yourself and then, through the knowledge of things, you will be able to find the truth. The man for Socrates, first of all, is his soul. And the “soul” for him is the mind, the ability of critical thinking and conscience. When he opened his “narrow path” of a Christian, Augustine knew the most important thing – God is Love. Love of God is immeasurable to man. He clearly says, “But thou art the life of souls, life of lives, having life in thyself, and never changing, O Life of my soul”. Without this mutual love, the feeling of life disappears; there is only emptiness, pain, and death. The man is still free to choose to accept or to refuse the ultimate manifestation of divine love. He developed a deep spirituality in which love is central. God is also the most important object of cognition and perception. God brings the light in the human spirit and helps people to find the truth. Everything exists because of God and every good thing comes from God. This is only the appearance that people take their knowledge from the world, in fact, they are in the depths of their own spirit. A person cannot be a creator, he only sees the divine ideas. He believed that God not only created the world but also continues to work at the moment and will work in the future.

To make a conclusion, it should be mentioned that, Socrates’ and St. Augustine’s views on the life goals and missions are similar. They justify the importance of spiritual freedom by the example of their lives, using the gift and wisdom. For success in the search for the truth, we need to have a purpose, faith and desire. Furthermore, the humans are morally responsible for their actions. They wanted to say that God has infinite power and knowledge of every sort. God can cause you to act in particular ways simply by willing that you do so, and in every case God knows in advance in what way you will act, long before you even contemplate doing so. Socrates and St. Augustine wanted to tell and show us that we were sent to earth with a mission to fulfill. Mission – is our testimony to the world about God. We should share and obey Jesus Christ. These missions we have to do with the passion. If you want to be happy and fulfilled with enthusiasm, you have to discover what your mission is and organize your life and activities in function of your mission.

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GradesFixer. (2018, October, 18) A Comparison between the Life Goals and Missions of Saint Augustine and Socrates. Retrived December 8, 2019, from https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/a-comparison-between-the-life-goals-and-missions-of-saint-augustine-and-socrates/
"A Comparison between the Life Goals and Missions of Saint Augustine and Socrates." GradesFixer, 18 Oct. 2018, https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/a-comparison-between-the-life-goals-and-missions-of-saint-augustine-and-socrates/. Accessed 8 December 2019.
GradesFixer. 2018. A Comparison between the Life Goals and Missions of Saint Augustine and Socrates., viewed 8 December 2019, <https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/a-comparison-between-the-life-goals-and-missions-of-saint-augustine-and-socrates/>
GradesFixer. A Comparison between the Life Goals and Missions of Saint Augustine and Socrates. [Internet]. October 2018. [Accessed December 8, 2019]. Available from: https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/a-comparison-between-the-life-goals-and-missions-of-saint-augustine-and-socrates/
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